National’s Senator for Victoria, Bridget McKenzie says Labor’s ignorance over the backpacker tax issue is only matched by their lack of action in supporting Coalition suggested tax
rates that are fair and balanced and will attract overseas working holiday
makers to this country.
“I am at a loss to understand why Labor is prepared to have overseas workers coming here pay less tax than locals.
“After months of refusing to outline a position on Working Holiday Makers, Labor has teamed up with Senator Jacqui Lambie to give a tax break to foreign workers but it’s clear that Bill
Shorten doesn’t understand the difference between the visa categories.
“He links 457 and 417 visas and doesn’t seem to realise these are completely different, for different purposes when he says, ‘We’ve got a big issue when you have got people coming here on 457,417 visas, these are visas which give people from overseas temporary work rights in Australia’
“417 and 462 visas are for the more than 200 thousand working holiday makers, typically backpackers, who in order to extend their stay, work in the agriculture or hospitality industry.
“Workers holding the 457 visas must be linked to a sponsoring employer to address regional or industry skill shortages,” Senator McKenzie said.
Senator McKenzie said to make matters worse; Labor would have backpackers who come here pay less tax than local workers doing the same job.
“If Labor and Senator Lambie got their suggested rate of 10.5% tax through the Senate our local fruit pickers could be upwards of $40 a week worse off compared with foreign pickers
in the same orchard.
“Getting the skills we need to grow our regional economies is essential, as always local is best, but when unavailable, getting the crop off the tree and off to the export markets of the
world underpins local jobs throughout regional Australia.
“In contrast to Bill Shortens uniformed and divisive political opportunism, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton today announced changes that give 457 visa holders more protection against
exploitation while ensuring that Australian workers have priority in the
workplace, get the balance right.
“Bill Shorten needs to explain why he is supporting a plan to give foreign workers a competitive advantage in the Australian labour market, especially in regional areas with
higher levels of youth unemployment,” Senator McKenzie said.